In his first newspaper interview outside of Delaware since the election, Vice President-elect Biden reiterated to the New York Times statements he made during the campaign as to how he will implement the VP office more prudently than his predecessor Dick Cheney, who he has described as "the most dangerous Vice President probably in American history". The interview marks the latest installment in an ongoing objurgatory exchange between Biden and Cheney that has played out through various media outlets.
When asked about conservative criticism from the likes of Cheney and The Weekly Standard, who predict an insignificant VP office for the next four years, Biden seems to take the high ground, diminishing the importance of outside perception. From the Times:
Mr. Biden said that view was fine with him. "It's O.K. if that's what everyone perceives," he said. "It's irrelevant what the outside world perceives. What is relevant is whether or not I'm value added."
He said he would bring more to the job than any of his predecessors, except possibly Lyndon B. Johnson. "I know as much or more than Cheney," Mr. Biden said. "I'm the most experienced vice president since anybody."
Thus, where Cheney added brute influence, Biden promises to add value. The Times also points out that Biden, who will be 74-years-old in 2016, has no intention of running for President and thus will be free to dedicate the extent of his time and efforts towards the Vice Presidency. This, interestingly enough, makes him especially similar to Cheney.
His statements to the Times remain consistent with those from the campaign: that he will execute the office as prudently and selflessly as possible to dial back eight years worth of what he considers to be blatant abuse of power. Or in other words, he will put "country first."
Among the many abuses that are often cited, what was most highlighted during the campaign was Cheney's inappropriate involvement in the legislative side of the administration's agenda. Cheney then mocked Biden for this criticism in an interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace. As Huffington Post reported this past December:
"He also said that all the powers and responsibilities of the executive branch are laid out in Article I of the Constitution," Cheney said in a interview that was conducted on Friday. "Well, they're not. Article I of the Constitution is the one on the legislative branch."
"Joe's been chairman of the Judiciary Committee, a member of the Judiciary Committee in the Senate for 36 years, teaches constitutional law back in Delaware, and can't keep straight which article of the Constitution provides for the legislature and which provides for the executive," Cheney added. "So I think I'd write that off as campaign rhetoric. I don't take it seriously."
Of course, Article I does indeed mention the role of the Vice President rather explicitly:
The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.
Needless to say, the former and the soon-to-be current VPs probably will not resolve their differences anytime soon. Biden even stipulated last month that, while he may feel somewhat sorry for Bush for the constant excoriation he receives, he has no pity whatsoever for Cheney. Speaking to CNN's Larry King, Biden said "I feel somewhat badly for him. I think the incident in Iraq was -- was unfortunate, that guy throwing the shoes. It was just -- it was just uncalled for and was -- I think that President Bush and, unlike Vice President Cheney, is, upon reflection beginning to acknowledge some of the serious, if not mistakes, misjudgments that he made."
According to the Times, Obama has promised Biden ample involvement in all areas of concern, including weekly lunch sessions. With such freedom, the extent to which Biden uses his influence, and particularly his foreign policy expertise, will presumably be totally up to him -- and his promise to return the office to its historically less unbridled capacity.
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